Watchdog: Dirty deals in Aqueduct casino bidding
The state inspector general released a blistering report Thursday accusing elected officials of self-dealing as Albany sought to choose a company to run video slots at Aqueduct Race Track.
Inspector General Joseph Fisch forwarded specific allegations of misconduct by John Sampson, the Senate Democratic leader, Senate president Malcolm Smith and Senate secretary Angelo Aponte to the Manhattan DA and U.S. attorney offices.
“Shamefully, the public’s best interest was a matter of militant indifference to them,” said Fisch.
The 300-plus-page report finds that the legislature and governor’s office, in the course of selecting Aqueduct Entertainment Group, bypassed lobbying restrictions and accepted campaign donations. Officials selected AEG in January, but the company was denied a gaming license by the Lottery Division because of questionable investors — including the influential Rev. Floyd Flake, a former Queens congressman.
“The process lacked structure, and the rules changed repeatedly,” Sampson said in a statement, that the New York Times reported did not address specific accusations.
In September, after an eight-year search, the contract to run the city’s first casino was given to Genting New York, a Malaysia-based company that has paid $380 million up front as part of the agreement.